Water and hope

Scotts_2016 Posted by Keith and Lyn Scott, 18 days ago | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

It’s September, and the winter is nearly over, if you can call it a winter. Daytime temperatures are moving from mid/high 20s to mid/high 30s. It still won’t start raining for another few weeks, not until late October, maybe not even until November or December. Now there is not even cloud cover and the red African clay is baked concrete hard in the sun.

The dry season is tough on us all here, especially as we struggle with the seminary water supply. We get our water from MEF (Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation – the international campus where the college is based). These days, MEF does not supply us throughout the day from the old water towers at the top of the campus. Their treatment plant is also old and we get pretty much untreated water into our storage tanks. This means we must settle, filter and/or boil all the water used for cooking, washing food, and for drinking. That’s if there is any water to filter or boil.

Usually we keep about 70 liters in a big plastic bin out in the back yard. There it settles, the floaty bits sink to the bottom, and we draw it off from the top to put into our two filters. The bin also keeps us going for the increasingly long interludes when there is no water at all in the taps.

We managed to mitigate these problems with a major overhaul of the seminary water system. New float switches and a new relay and a lot of replacement wiring, but the water still disappears from our taps by mid-morning, sometimes not coming back until early evening.

The longer-term future demands that we develop an independent water supply for the seminary. It’s not hard to see that MEF, financially challenged as it is, is not going to be able to put the necessary investment of many hundreds of thousands of US dollars into its water supply for a long time to come. If ever. Sooner or later something will happen which will be beyond even the inventiveness of African minds and hands to repair.

In the meantime, we can hope for an improvement in our water supply when the rains return and people no longer need to water those vegetable gardens which provide them with extra food and income. We all long for the coming of the rains, fearful, yet in hope.

Hope is something we all need in the rhythms of the year. For people in Ireland it will soon be expressed in the Advent and Christmas images of Jesus as the light of a dark world. Those images don’t work here. The last few weeks of the dry season are the worst. Soon, temperatures will head towards the 40s, and the sun will dominate a cloudless sky. Water will become something to be even more carefully husbanded until the coming of the rains turns our brown land green.

Rather than ‘light and darkness’, our Advent and Christmas imagery in Zambia should be more about Jesus as the source of the water of life – the source of rivers springing up, brimming with water, flowing with life, fertility and hope into an arid world bereft of blessing, a creation we have rashly damaged not yet cared enough to properly understand how or why.

We wait and we hope.

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